Special Feature: Products Sally Recommends
tips for expecting parents in chicago
Having a baby in the city can be difficult, but there are definitely some perks as well. While you may be living in a small and expensive place, you also have access to great support networks for child care and parent groups.
Whether this is your first child or you’re continuing to grow your family, there are a lot of things you can do to make yourself feel more prepared to welcome this new addition. Here are five tips for expecting parents in Chicago:
1. Join a Parents Group
Parenting is not an easy or straightforward thing. So, having a group of supporting, like-minded parents can help you navigate some of the difficult times. These groups are great for first-time parents who have no experience and also for people who have been parents for a while and just need to increase their support system. Within these groups, you can share what you’ve learned, what you’ve struggled with, and help guide each other to make choices that you can be proud of.
These groups can be found locally, virtually, through apps, through Facebook, through word of mouth, etc. If you are having a hard time finding a group, make your own! Start by thinking about your own needs and priorities and seek out people who have similar needs. It doesn’t have to be too formal or strict, as long as you get together and support each other. Use whatever resources you have available to you: make a group on social media, hang up fliers at local daycares or playgrounds, you could even start a book club that focuses around materials on parenting! There are no rules.
2. Start Researching Child Care Now
Choosing the right child care facility for your family and your child is essential. Start researching early and try to have a place locked down a couple of months before you need it. If you're looking for a top daycare provider in Chicago, Cool Things Chicago has written an article about the best daycares in Chicago that should help you get started.
For single parents or households where both parents work, child care is a total lifesaver. Not only does it allow you to get back a semblance of your daily routines but the right facility can help socialize your child, teach them important values, and prepare them for their school years.
This is not a process you want to rush. You want to be sure that the place taking care of your child for approximately 40 hours a week is a place that you can trust, that is in alignment with your own parenting beliefs, and is within your budget. Start researching early so that you don’t have to scramble and settle for anything less than perfect.
With a new baby (especially the first baby) comes a whole lot of purchases: new furniture, space to store a surplus of diapers, blankets, onesies, and toys. You’ll get truckloads of stuff from friends and family. You’ll get hand-me-downs from friends and loved ones. And of course, you’ll be picking out some items yourself. Making space for all of this stuff requires some decluttering, especially if you’re living in a small space in the city.
To prepare, consider hiring a decluttering and organizing service. One of the highest-rated options in Chicago is The Chicago Organizer, Inc. With some professional help, they can help you choose what stays, what goes, and how you can organize to maximize the space that you have. They’ll also help you stay on track so that your decluttering project will be complete before your baby arrives.
If you don’t want to pay for a service, don’t worry, there are plenty of checklists and DIY tips out there. It just may take a bit more time and some trial and error to finish the project on your own.
4. Create a New Budget
As soon as possible, create a new budget that includes expenses that will come with your new baby. This includes services like babysitting, daycare, doctor’s office visits as well as supplies like diapers, clothing, and food. The sooner you start to work out this budget, the sooner you can start making changes.
Do you need to decrease how often you buy takeout? What can you afford to spend on child care? How much should you save so that you have an emergency cushion? How much time can you take off once the baby arrives? Do you need to downsize? Do you need more space? How much more?
If possible, start creating a budget right when you find out you’re expecting. That gives you plenty of time to experiment with what you can sacrifice, plenty of time to save up those extra dollars and cents. The last thing you want is to wait until after the baby gets there and then realize that you have a problem. Be proactive and prioritize the revision of your budget.
5. Research Essential Products
Just like finding the right child care, finding the right products takes time. These essential products include purchases like furniture, car seats, and strollers. Not only are these items expensive but they also need to keep your child safe. Hopefully, you’ve already created a budget and know what you can afford. If that’s the case, start shopping items in your price range, read user reviews, read articles, and take your time.
If you give yourself some time to collect these essential items, then you won’t have to rush or settle for something subpar. Ideally, you’ll even give yourself enough time to save up some extra cash if you find that your initial budget is insufficient.
For those who have connections with other parents, see what they use(d) and how they liked it. If you get lucky, they may even be past the infant years with their children and could pass items on to you for a much more affordable price than buying new.